The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

June 21, 2013

Watchdog faults background check of NSA leaker

(Continued)

OPM's Federal Investigative Services division performs almost all the background investigations for federal agencies and nearly 75 percent of the investigators who perform background checks are contractors, according to information on the agency's website.

At the hearing, McFarland called for much closer oversight of the investigators who conduct background checks. He said that 18 background investigators and record searchers have been criminally convicted since 2006 for fabricating information in background reports.

McFarland's office is actively working on 11 fabrication cases and another 36 cases involving background investigators are pending, according to data he provided to the subcommittees.

Of the 18 investigators who were criminally convicted, 11 were federal employees and seven were contractors. Of the 47 active and pending cases, six involve federal employees and 41 involve contractors, according to McFarland.

The new documents revealed by The Guardian were signed by Attorney General Eric Holder. They include point-by-point directions on how an NSA employee must work to determine that a person being targeted has not entered the United States. If NSA finds the target has entered the U.S., it will stop gathering phone and Internet data immediately, the documents say.

If supervisors determine that information on a U.S. person or a target who entered the U.S. was intentionally targeted, that information is destroyed, according to the documents.

But if a foreign target has conversations with an American or a U.S.-based person whom NSA supervisors determine is related to terrorism, or contains significant intelligence or evidence of crimes, that call or email or text message can be kept indefinitely. Encrypted communications also can be kept indefinitely, according the documents.

Administration officials had said the U.S. phone records NSA gathered could only be kept for five years. A fact sheet those officials provided to reporters mentioned no exceptions.

The documents outline fairly broad authority when the NSA monitors a foreigner's communications. For instance, if the monitored foreigner has been criminally indicted in the U.S. and is speaking to legal counsel, NSA has to cease monitoring the call. The agency, however, can log the call and mine it later so long as conversation protected by attorney-client privilege is not used in legal proceedings against the foreigner.

The NSA had no comment when asked about the newly revealed documents.

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